Manuel Osborne-Paradis hasn’t needed much time to return to the form that’s earned him nine World Cup podium finishes over his career, nearly landing a 10th just four races into his comeback from injury.
The Whistler Mountain Ski Club alum finished seventh in Saturday’s (Dec. 15) downhill at Val Gardena, Italy, coming on the heels of a top-20 result in his first super-G of the season on Friday (Dec. 14).
Osborne-Paradis saw fortunate conditions when starting 38th on the shortened course at Val Gardena, which had fog and snow for the early starters that later cleared. The 28-year-old had a three-tenths lead at the second split, but a mid-race slip-up took him off the podium pace.
“I knew I had a shot. I know how to ski this course,” said Osborne-Paradis, who won at Val Gardena during the 2010 Olympic season. “I knew what I had to do to win. It’s a bummer I caught an edge. It cost me the race, for sure.”
Erik Guay earned the first podium finish of the season for Canada, hanging on to third as late starters claimed most of the top-10 positions. It was the 18th top-three finish of Guay’s career, putting him two behind Steve Podborski’s all-time Canadian record total of 20.
“I don’t spend my nights dwelling on it, but to be able to say I’m the best skier in Canadian history would be something special,” said Guay.
American Steven Nyman started right behind Osborne-Paradis and set the winning time, removing Slovenia’s Rok Perko from the top of the podium for his second win at Val Gardena.
No other Canadians were in the points Saturday; Whistler’s Conrad Pridy finished 59th.
Since missing all of last season injured, Osborne-Paradis has returned to the World Cup circuit with four consecutive top-30 finishes. In Friday’s super-G, he finished 18th while wearing bib No. 52. It was his first World Cup super-G in almost 23 months.
There were three Canadians in the top 20 on Friday, as Jan Hudec was 12th and Guay finished 14th in a race won by Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal.
“Confidence-wise, I’m back to where I need to be to be competitive. The super-G was a great result,” said Osborne-Paradis. “I always say that any top 10 in World Cup is a good result because everyone’s trying to win. It’s just a shame that a mistake (in downhill) was so costly, but that’s racing. It’s kind of bittersweet. I could have ended up in the nets, so you take your small victories and move on.”
The Saslong course at Val Gardena has traditionally been kind to Canadians. Saturday’s downhill came 22 years to the day that Whistler’s Rob Boyd claimed the last of his four podium finishes at Val Gardena in his career, two of which were wins. When Boyd earned a repeat victory in downhill at Val Gardena in 1987, he shared the podium with fellow Canuck Brian Stemmle.
The men’s downhill circuit continues on Dec. 29 at Bormio, Italy.
Janyk skis out in slalom
The skiing seems to be there for Mike Janyk, but the agony continued on Tuesday (Dec. 18) as he straddled a gate in the men’s World Cup slalom at Madonna di Campiglio, Italy.
Janyk charged down the top section of the course on the first run, taking a half-second lead at the first interval with most of the top skiers already down, but hooked a tip on the very next gate to be disqualified.
Three races into the World Cup season, Janyk has yet to ski a second run, but he was encouraged by the speed he showed Tuesday.
“The bad news is I straddled. The good news is that I attacked,” Janyk said in a release.
“There’s a fire in there — I feel like I’m myself again. I got the green light back on top. I can be there — I am starting to believe again.”
Defending overall champ Marcel Hirscher of Austria won the race, with Germany’s Felix Neureuther and Japan’s Naoki Yuasa in third. Paul Stutz was the top Canadian, but finished 31st and did not move on.
Janyk will get a chance to rebound early in the new year, with the next men’s slalom scheduled for Jan. 6 at Zagreb, Croatia.